Announcing Your Image via Letterhead and Envelopes
Letterhead and envelopes may be the first encounter someone has with your business, and first impressions are obviously important. But even if customers have done business with you for some time, the look and feel of your stationery has a subtle but powerful impact on their attitude toward you. Good letterhead can help retain a customer or stimulate a referral. So, like with business cards, letterhead is a surprisingly important marketing investment. Make sure you have a clean, impressive design that impresses customers favorably.
And don’t overlook the importance of an envelope design that calls out to be opened. Important prospects get too much mail. Why should they pay any special attention to your envelope? Because it appears professional, impressive, and looks more interesting and useful to them than the average junk mail they receive. Or does it? Better take a cold, hard look at your envelopes and see whether they’re up to the challenge!
Conveying your image through paper and print
If you’re a stockbroker or a business consultant, you may want to have an established, conservative look for your design, ink, and paper selections. Communicating a sense of stability and longevity can be important in these fields. What sorts of type, ink color, and paper say this the best? Perhaps Times Roman lettering, centered in a traditional style at the head of the paper, printed in conservative black ink on an old-fashioned creamy paper with some cotton fiber in it, also containing a watermark. Such a paper is more expensive than lighter, more modern papers but is consistent with a conservative, solid, sophisticated image. (Make sure you order blank sheets, too, to use for second pages because a regular piece of white paper doesn’t match.)
What should an art therapist choose for stationery? Well, an art therapist needs to select an image that’s both playful and supportive — soft, reassuring, but a bit artistic and fun, too. How about a full-color rainbow as the logo, which brings in the artist’s palette but also evokes thoughts of calmness, good fortune, and healing (because rainbows come after storms)? As for paper, perhaps an attractive, soft, woven paper, again in a conservative off-white or creamy color, but perhaps this time with some little flecks of color in it?
You need to project a clear, strong personality each and every time you present your business. Capture and convey your brand personality in your letterhead, envelopes, and business cards. Even if you don’t work with an expensive designer, take the time to explore many options and make a thoughtful selection of paper, ink, type, and logo (if you use one). Extra care and a little extra investment here go a lot further than most people realize to help make sales and marketing successful.
Here’s an idea you can act on easily, with or without a designer’s help. Go to a larger print shop and select a distinctive paper for your business. Something that you feel has a unique, appropriate, and appealing look and feel to it. Then order letterhead, business cards, envelopes, and even labels all on this distinctive paper. This subtle design element can boost the image and appeal of a business.
Getting your message across through faxes and e-mails
Many businesses use decent letterhead but send faxes using a generic cover sheet with designs (please avoid the templates in Word!). Other businesses improvise and use a blank sheet of paper to create inconsistent and unprofessional looking faxes.
You can simply use your letterhead for faxes, centering the header “FAX MEMO” at the top of the page, with the date centered in smaller type below it. Then use the standard memo format of left-justified To:, From:, and Re: lines, including both the name of the person the fax is to and her fax number. At the bottom, beneath your signature, provide your own fax number if the contact address on your letterhead doesn’t include it. You can also say in a “Note” at the bottom, “3 more pages to come” or whatever, to make sure she receives all the pages you send.
If you send a lot of faxes, you may need a special fax form. This form can be on regular white paper (because the paper doesn’t go through to the recipient anyway), but it must have a faithful reproduction (in black-and-white line art) of your logo and identity; in other words, you want it to look pretty much the way it does on your letterhead. Add any lines for including fax-oriented information, such as who to call if the fax doesn’t come through correctly and how many pages the recipient should expect. If the document’s important, you can also provide alternative ways of seeing or receiving it, such as providing an e-mail address that the recipient can contact if she wants you to send it electronically (a good option when the recipient may want to edit or work with your material).
Sometimes (like when sending a multipage contract) you need a cover sheet to explain what’s coming by fax. Consider using fax cover sheets that look like letterhead, with a clearly stated “FAX COVER SHEET” at the top, centered (or wherever it doesn’t interfere with your letterhead design). Include a short table (boxed in) with all necessary fields of information where you can write in. Don’t let the tail wag the design dog. The key point is to make sure the fax presents your identity well, just as your letterhead and business card do. (And don’t overuse the fax cover sheet. If you have just a short note to send, make it a one-page fax memo. Don’t send a cover sheet that says “one page to come” when all you need to send is a memo.